The 16th annual Vissla Cosmic Creek took place last weekend at the iconic Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point, California. We were greeted with sunshine and perfect waves for the alternative, more experimental board-riding style of the 70’s and 80’s.
Bright and early on Saturday morning, contestants and spectators flooded the beach, ready to enjoy a day full of surf and good vibes. For those of us who weren’t as bright eyed and bushy tailed, Stumptown Coffee Roasters were there to give us our morning boost. For the rest, they were straight in the water, starting with the groms. Most of them were riding boards that were double their age, but this didn’t stop them. As we moved through the older divisions, it was clear that the competitors knew that they were surfing pieces of history. They could feel it. There was no ‘competition,’ just the surfers, the boards, and the stoke.
Each one of the competitors were gifted a MIZU stainless steel, reusable bottle and provided water filling stations throughout the beach to keep us hydrated and sustainable. Thanks to MIZU for keeping this a plastic-free event all weekend!
To make an already-great day even better, one of our favorite grom bands, After School Special (A.S.S.) jammed out on the beach. While some had the opportunity to compete with the tunes in the background, others chilled on the beach, enjoying delicious tacos from The Shwack and cooling down with refreshing coconut water from ZICO.
Saturday surfing wrapped up with the 19- 25 semi-final, and everyone made their way to the hillside behind the beach. Here salty, sandy beachgoers intermixed with fresh, well-dressed friends, all of whom were excited to enjoy some live music by Cosmonauts and DIIV, presented by D’Blanc. It was a scene reminiscent of Woodstock with the crowd covering the big grass hill, a front row pit and stage diving to the driving sounds of DIIV, hailing from Brooklyn.
After a well-deserved rest on Saturday night, we were back at it early Sunday morning, Stumptown in hand, and greeted by eager competitors ready for Day 2. Once again contest founder Eric Diamond cracked jokes on the mic all day, and competitors were ripping. We thought “there’s no way this could get any better.” We. Were. Wrong. Mid-way through our Shwack burrito lunch, we look up to find that a handful of pros came out to join the fun down at Creek. Rob Machado, Kalani Robb, Rosie Hodge, Derrick Disney, Andrew Jacobson, Tyler Warren, and Gunner Day, just to name a few. A rare moment of friendly competition between the Pro's left Rob Machado at the top, taking home the cash prize.
The pros put on an amazing performance in the water, and next out were our Creators & Innovators. This division, consisted of some legendary board builders Danny Hess, Travis Reynolds, Jason Bennett, Donald Brink, Britt Merrick, Josh Sleigh, Mike Walters, Dan Boehne, Tyler Warren, whom were required to create and compete on their own design. Aside from just riding their boards, they were also judged on innovation and style of the creation of the board itself. Britt Merrick took home the gold, after Vissla President took a good look at each craft, while Jason Bennett beat them all out on the waves.
While we are all about the surf, we are more about the Ocean, and all who love her as much as we do. World renowned body surfer Mark Cunningham joined us at Salt Creek, leading anyone who wanted to join in a “Body Surfing Expression Session.” People grabbed some demo fins from our friends at DaFiN, and flocked to the water. Everyone ranged in age and skill, but it didn’t matter. They were celebrating the community of people who simply love the ocean.
Photos: Jason Naude, Paul Naude, Kenny Hurtado, Roly Gomez, Jack Coleman, Noah McPherson
Minnows – 14 and under
Wax Snatchers – 15-18
Storm Riders – 19-24
Crystal Voyagers – 25-34
Morning of the Earth – 35-44
Shaded Souls – 45-54
4.Vince De la Pena
Legends of the Sea – 55+
Creators and Innovators